Lebanese protesters rally in support of fugitive cleric

July 5, 2013 14:41

SIDON, Lebanon - More than 300 Lebanese rallied in the coastal city of Sidon in support of a fugitive Sunni Islamist cleric on Friday, a day after an audio recording believed to be his voice urged followers to demonstrate.

The protest march prompted fears of more sectarian fighting in Sidon two weeks after the cleric's supporters and soldiers clashed there, in the worst outbreak of violence in Lebanon so far fuelled by the two-year conflict in neighboring Syria.Angry demonstrators waved banners and cheered their support for Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir, a firebrand Sunni Muslim cleric.

Assir, now on the run, was a staunch supporter of Syria's Sunni-led uprising and accused the army of backing the interests of the Shi'ite Muslim guerrilla group Hezbollah, which is now openly fighting on behalf of President Bashar Assad.

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